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MPIDR Working Paper

Association of late childbearing with healthy longevity among the oldest-old in China

Zeng, Y., Vaupel, J. W.

MPIDR Working Paper WP-2003-020, 43 pages (July 2003).
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Abstract

Statistical analysis of a large and unique longitudinal data set demonstrates that late childbearing after age 35 or 40 is significantly associated with survival and healthy survival among very old Chinese women and men. The association is stronger in oldest-old women than men. The estimates are adjusted for a variety of confounding factors of demographic characteristics, family support, social connections, health practices, and health conditions. Further analysis based on an extension of the Fixed Attribute Dynamics method shows that late childbearing is positively associated with long-term survival and healthy survival from ages 80-85 to 90-95 and 100-105. This association exists among oldest-old women and men, but, again, the effects are substantially stronger in women than men. We discuss four possible factors which may explain why late childbearing affects healthy longevity at advanced ages: (1) social factors; (2) biological changes caused by late pregnancy and delivery; (3) genetic and other biological characteristics; and (4) selection.

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